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KC Strong fund starts giving out $2 million in funds to Chiefs rally shooting survivors

Sarai Holguin, 71, was one of 24 people injured by bullets during the shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade in February. The United Way of Greater Kansas City raised more than $2 million in the aftermath of the violence, and announced Thursday that $1.2 million will go to survivors like Holguin, who was shot and had several surgeries. The remaining money will go to community groups working to prevent gun violence.
Christopher Smith
/
For KFF Health News
Sarai Holguin was one of 24 people injured by bullets during the shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade in February. The United Way of Greater Kansas City raised more than $2 million in the aftermath of the violence, and announced Thursday that $1.2 million will go to survivors like Holguin, who were shot. The remaining money will go to community groups working to prevent gun violence.

The United Way of Greater Kansas City gave $1.2 million to victims and $832,000 to 14 community groups Thursday, hoping to reach individual gunshot victims from the Kansas City Chiefs’ parade shootings and the larger community working to prevent gun violence.

Twenty gunshot victims from the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade shootings were awarded $1.2 million from the KC Strong fund on Thursday, with individuals receiving payments ranging from $22,000 to $100,000.

Chris Rosson, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Kansas City, said the KC Strong payouts will help these survivors while recognizing that gun violence like the February 14 shootings happen here every day, typically in low-income communities that are already under-resourced.

“When launching the fund, it was important for us to support first and foremost direct victims of the violence of that day, but also to drive critical financial resources to violence prevention and response organizations, to mental health supports, into first responders,” he said.

The shootings at the end of the rally near Union Station left 24 people injured and one dead. Lisa Lopez Galvin, 43, a mother of two and a popular Tejano DJ, was killed.

Since the shootings, some of the victims and their families have paid thousands of dollars in medical bills for emergency room treatment, ambulance rides, ongoing medical care for bullet wounds and mental health counseling. Some still struggle to return to work and rely on a confusing patchwork of assistance from GoFundMe accounts and a group of local churches.

Erika Nelson, whose 15-year-old daughter Mireya was shot in the chin and shoulder at the parade, said the money from the United Way is a blessing, but her daughter still struggles with the physical and emotional wounds of the violence.

“I don’t care how much money it is. It could be a million dollars. It could be a billion dollars. It’s never going to change what my daughter goes through every day,” Nelson said.

KC Strong fund was launched by the United Way on February 15, fueled by a first donation of $200,000 made by the Chiefs, the NFL and the Hunt family, which owns the team. The Kauffman Foundation and an anonymous person were the top donors with $250,000 each.

The funds are unrestricted, so they can be used for medical bills, college funds for the children injured during the parade or anything else families need. Rosson said the group believed the victims and the people closest to them should decide how best to spend the money.

“Giving unrestricted funding directly to those verified gunshot victims allows them to make the decisions that are right for them and their family and their path forward,” he said.

Kera Mashek, communications director of the United Way, said the money falls under the umbrella of needs-based assistance and won’t be taxed.

Chris Rosson, left, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Kansas City, and Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker on Thursday announced how the nearly $2 million in KC Strong funds would be disbursed to 20 people injured during the Kansas City chiefs Super Bowl parade. Fourteen community groups will also receive money.
Peggy Lowe
/
KCUR 89.3
Chris Rosson, left, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Kansas City, and Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker on Thursday announced how the nearly $2 million in KC Strong funds would be disbursed to 20 people injured during the Kansas City chiefs Super Bowl parade. Fourteen community groups will also be receiving money.

A fourth unnamed victim was denied funds because he is connected to the criminal case, said Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. She likened that victim’s situation to what are called “unindicted co-conspirators,” most often in federal court.

“We look at individuals' behavior, whether or not they can be charged criminally or should be charged criminally,” Baker said. “We still look at their behavior, which maybe aided in the overall process of the crime that occurred.”

So far,three adults and three minors have been charged in the shootings, along with three more men whoface federal charges of trafficking illegal guns or lying to FBI agents.

More than 80 people were trampled in the melee after the shootings, Baker said, adding that they are also among the many victims of the parade shooting. They will not, however, receive money from the fund.

Funds like #KCStrong that emerge in the wake of mass shootings must balance distributing the money broadly enough to include people directly impacted without dissipating the available resources, according to Jeff Dion of the Mass Violence Survivors Fund. The nonprofit organization has helped communities across the country distribute such funds.

The OneOrlando Fund that emerged after the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016 made a range of payments, including $350,000 to the families of each of 49 people killed, but also $25,000 each to 182 people who were at the nightclub but weren’t injured. That fund raised $29.5 million compared to the $2 million raised in Kansas City.

The $31.4 million fund that emerged in Las Vegas in 2017 after a mass shooting at a concert with 22,000 attendees did not include payments to people who were not injured. As many as 1 million people attended the Super Bowl parade in February.

“When you're dealing with actual dollars, you have to find a way to be able to serve the most people with the most amount of money,” Baker said. “So I think that was probably some of the decisions that had to be reached in this case, which is difficult, hard, but also necessary.”

Jacob Gooch Sr. and Emily Tavis sit in their living room in Leavenworth, Kansas, three days after they were both injured by bullets at the shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade in February. Gooch’s son was also shot.
Christopher Smith
/
For KFF Health News
Jacob Gooch Sr. and Emily Tavis sit in their living room in Leavenworth, Kansas, three days after they were both injured by bullets at the shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade in February. Gooch’s son was also shot.

The community groups, which each received $59,410, are: Ad Hoc Group Against Crime; Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City; Center for Conflict Resolution; Guadalupe Centers; Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission; KC Common Good; KC Mothers in Charge; Lyrik’s Institution; Newhouse; Rose Brooks; Transition Zone; The Battle Within; Uncornered and University Health.

Other efforts have directed money to survivors as well. GoFundMe accounts have raised $667,785. A faith-based group called “The Church Loves Kansas City” raised $184,500 and has so far has spent more than $50,000 in funeral expenses, medical procedures, counseling, and living expenses, said Gary Kendall, one of the leaders.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
Bram Sable-Smith is the Midwest correspondent for KFF Health News. Email him at brams@kff.org.